Getting away from “the big 9”

Guest blogger Larry Baker, certified sommelier and the wine consultant at our Pompano Beach store.

Everyone is looking for that $10.00 bottle of wine that tastes like a $25.00 bottle of wine. They exist; however, in order to make that happen and to broaden your wine horizons, you have to be willing to let your ABC Wine Consultant help you stray away from the Big 9 grapes that most people keep buying over and over. Raise your virtual hand if you have heard of these 9 grapes. Ready? #1-Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio)..Yes!! #2-Riesling..Yes!! #3- Sauvignon Blanc..Yes!! #4- Chardonnay…Yes. Here come the red grapes. #5- Pinot Noir…Yes!! #6 Merlot…Yes!! #7- Cabernet Sauvignon …Yes and Yes!! #8-Syrah (or Shiraz)..Yes!! #9 (Thanks to Argentina, even though the grape is one of the 5 red grapes of Bordeaux, France) Malbec…Yes!!!

Now raise your virtual hand if you have heard of these white or red grapes: Insolia, Garganaga, Cortese, Verdejo, Torrontes, Tannat, Mencia, Monastrell, Negramaro, Carignan.  Nothing to be ashamed of if you haven’t heard of most of these or the other 2,000 grape varietals out there, but if you don’t step out of the box and try some of these wines and stray away from the basic 9 grapes most wine consumers purchase, you are missing out on not only the fun of drinking wine, but also on some phenomenal values.

My first homework assignment for you is this: every time you visit one of our ABC Fine Wines and Spirits locations, buy one wine or grape that you are familiar with and then ask your local Wine Consultant to recommend one grape varietal that you haven’t tried before. My personal two selections would be these:

Finca Copete Torrontes

White: My favorite white varietal is widely planted in the northern part of Argentina. It is called Torrontes (not Toronto…that is in Canada)  Torrontes, in my opinion, will become the new Pinot Grigio once the grape varietal becomes more popular. Try Finca Copete from the Cafayate Valley in Salta in Northern Argentina. It exhibits a floral, fruity nose of lavender, rose petals and citrus fruits. The taste provides one of the most refreshing glasses of white wine you have ever had.

Madiran La Place

Red: “Tannat.” People who haven’t tried the grape “Tannat” (pronounced Ta-knot) are missing out on one of the greatest red wines around. It is king in France in the Southwest town of Madiran. It can be very tannic; however, when it is blended with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc it is a much softer, pleasing wine. I suggest Madiran Laplace which is 60% Tannat, 20% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. This wine is deeper and darker than any Cabernet Sauvignon you have ever tried with dark fruit flavors and medium tannins that could stand up nicely to a NY Strip with mushrooms. By the way, both of these offerings are under $15 and, in fact, the Torrontes is under $10.

Try these two on for size and then you will feel so good that you only have 1,991 other grapes to try. Instead of buying that inexpensive cabernet or chardonnay, sit back, relax and leave the driving to your local ABC Wine Consultant and let them find you some terrific quality to price ratio wines from all over the world and help you broaden your wine horizons and stray away from “The Big 9” Grapes you have been drinking.

–Larry “The Wine Guy”  -Certified Sommelier, and Wine Consultant, Pompano Beach

If you want, you can see more of Larry’s wine writings at

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